Stanford digital officer Sumbul Desai is Apple's latest stealthy health hire

By Bernie Monegain
03:33 pm

Apple has hired Sumbul Desai, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford. Desai is also vice chair of the Department of Medicine and chief digital officer at Stanford Center for Digital Health.

Desai will serve in a senior role at Apple in what appears to be a growing healthcare team, CNBC reported on June 8, adding she would continue to see patients at Stanford.

Apple executives have not released what role Desai will play, whether she might join the team working on ResearchKit, HealthKit and CareKit, or work on an unrelated project.

At Stanford, Desai created ClickWell Care, a telemedicine project. She guided the project’s focus on improving access to primary care, and within a year, between 55 percent and 60 percent of clinic visits were virtual. Desai has also been responsible for promoting the use of various digital health devices, as well as overseeing projects that involved the Apple Watch.

The hiring of Desai continues Apple’s penchant for recruiting Silicon Valley talent.

In August 2016, Apple acquired Gliimpse, a personal health data startup that lets users create, read and share personal health records. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

However, Gliimpse founder and CEO Anil Sethi went to work at Apple after the sale. He continues to work there. His title, according to his LinkedIn page: Director, Health Technologies.

Around the same time, Apple recruited Rajiv Kumar, a pediatric endocrinologist from Stanford Children’s Health. Employing Apple HealthKit, Kumar built a monitoring system for teenage type 1 diabetes patients. The app transmits blood glucose readings to an Apple device and then sends them to the patient’s medical record.

Apple continues to invest in healthcare projects, but remains hush-hush while they are in development.

Desai serves as vice chair of the Department of Medicine, Strategy and Innovation at Stanford Hospital and Clinics, where she leads product strategy, design and deployment of virtual care and digital offerings.

Before turning to medicine, Desai spent the first several years of her career at The Walt Disney Company, where she worked on strategy and business development.


The latest news in digital health delivered daily to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing!
Error! Something went wrong!